No One in Portland is From Portland

The weekend swooped in and then abruptly left and we were no closer to finding jobs than we were before its arrival. Regardless of our continued bad luck, however, we decided to spend our time between job applications enjoying the Portland life. Which means attending a beer festival.

On Friday we had a late start. We spent the morning sitting around on our laptops and playing videogames. I filled out a few more online applications and hated every moment of it (an amazing thing happens when you fill out a lot of job applications: you grow to hate them so much that the mere act of filling them out fills you with an almost uncontrollable rage), and we both made phone calls around.

I called five film companies. Two didn’t answer, two said they weren’t hiring, and the fifth one was answered by a guy who may have been under the influence of something. We talked awkwardly across a bad phoneline and then he told me to email him my information. I did, immediately after hanging up. Have I heard anything from him? No. Of course not.

Brit had similar bad news after talking with the manager of a Starbucks, and so we ate lunch and played more videogames. We took the train downtown and walked to the J. Crew at Pioneer Place (a big mall in downtown Portland), where Brit handed off another application.

Then we walked to the beer fest, which was super crowded. We got ten tickets and a 4 oz glass as part of our admission price, and the price of the beers varied. There were a lot of one ticket beers, but they ranged all the way up to seven tickets. With each ticket being one dollar, 4 oz of that seven ticket beer means you’re paying $7 for 1/4 a normal cup of beer. We didn’t try that one in particular, but I hope it was amazing.

We tried five different beers apiece, and they were all generally good. Most were local (Oregon prides themselves in having tons and tons of breweries). My favorite of my Friday tastings was a Steelhead Porter that basically tasted like coffee beer. We then got stared at by a sad man with puppy dog eyes and a big gut, and then we left. I needed to pee so bad that I didn’t even realize it until we’d left the beer festival area. Once we were three blocks away, my bladder began to weep. We went inside a conveyor belt sushi place, I quickly used their facilities, and we sat down and had some awesome – and awesomely cheap – sushi. It was pretty delicious, especially since we both got off for under $8 for dinner.

Back at the house, we hung out for a while doing more time-wasting awesomeness on our laptops until Helen and Caroline came home with Bennett, who they just got from the Seattle airport, having just returned from Germany. He was understandably dead-tired and didn’t say much.

Saturday rolled around in the best way that it could. Caroline shakes me awake and tells both Brit and myself that Wiley, their adorable and occasionally mischievous Golden Retriever puppy, has had a bad case of diarrhea in the nighttime and happened to make a mess of his room upstairs. We had to help her clean it, she said, because it’s disgusting.

Then she left and Brit and I rolled around wishing it wasn’t so. Helen called, apologized, and before long we found ourselves face to face with the room – which the dog happened to still be in. The smell was by far the worst part, and even with both doors open and articles of clothing covering our faces, it was still a bit of a challenge to actually clean it up.

Once the dirty deed was done, Caroline made us chocolate peanut butter bagels and we planned the day. Around noon we hopped on the train again. A guy who was very much a hippie but not quite (blatantly) homeless picked us out of the slim pickings on the train and started talking to us. He had a clipboard for people to sign his hemp petition, but after finding out that we weren’t Oregon residents and hence couldn’t sign it, he instead started talking about life and the cosmos.

Upon finding out that we were college grad – and English majors no less – he started telling us that it was our duty to spread our knowledge with everyone else, and that jobs would eventually come to us. Only 90% of all matter is even visible, he reminded us, and also a lot of other stuff that was supposed to make us wonder about the universe. He was pretty spacey and kept making up words and didn’t want us to contribute any more to the conversation than a “yeah, definitely” every few minutes.

Another strange and possibly homeless fellow came onboard in the middle of the conversation and, upon hearing the word hemp, perked up and relocated to a seat closer to us. When our original guide to the sharing of knowledge abruptly left (in the middle of a thought, “Oh, this is my stop,” right before ducking off the train), our new friend began talking about the miracle that is hemp, and how they can engineer it to not be smokeable anymore. Don’t scientists know anything?

Delighted at our Portlander run-ins, we got off the train and went to Portland’s famous Saturday Market, which had hippies, clothes, homeless people, tourists, and a bunch of delicious food. The market spanned three blocks at the river’s edge and was pretty packed with all kinds of people doing and buying all kinds of things. We ate gyros sandwiches and then trucked on over to the beer fest for day two.

We tried another five beers each and managed to sit at a table with people around our age. We told them of our wild and crazy relocation plan and how the stars were not quite aligning in a way that would make our plan a reality. They told us that they also moved here from afar, and that in fact most Portlanders are transplants. More friends of theirs showed up, originally from southern California, and proved their point. We chatted with them and they told us some cool places to check out.

After some time we left the beer fest, the favorite of the day possibly going to a tangerine wheat beer. We went to Powell’s, the giant and famously independent bookstore, and perused the aisles for awhile. I read a movie magazine that got me excited about making movies with no budgets in locations that aren’t LA. An hour or so later, finding ourselves hungry, we ended up at the same sushi place that we ate at the day before.

Prices and dishes seemed a tad different, and though it was still good and cheap and scrumptious in our tummyboxes, it wasn’t as mind-boggling as the first time. Done with dinner, we hopped on the train and then drove home. We chatted with the family back at the house, I read until my eyes fell out of my sockets, and then to bed we went.

The next day, Sunday, we awoke and took a trip to the local Safeway, bought some orange juice for mimosas, and then friends of Helen came over for the final World Cup game, USA vs. Japan. After talking with everyone and eating the delicious foods they brought, we watched the game in a constant state of suspense (the woman commentator commented, multiple times, about how she was having health problems from the constant uncertainty about USA’s victory). One absurdly long and very entertaining game later, we mourned America’s loss.

Talked some more with the guests, then hopped a train to the downtown and hit beer fest for the third and final day. Having rained for most of the morning, the crowds were slimmer (I thought Portlanders weren’t bothered by rain? Seems like they are…). Several of the beers were out but we still managed to try another five beers, bringing our grand total to 15 different beers tried in 3 days. At 4 oz each, it was 20 oz a day. They were mostly all tasty, too, so it was a fun time – especially when trying a beer whose description made no sense and finding that it was actually pretty good.

After the beer fest, we hopped a bus to the east side where we hoped to see some live music at a local patio/grill/venue, but alas there was no such music happening. And that was when we got to Voodoo Doughnuts, perhaps the famousest of famous Portland places (up there with Powell’s). We’d had some Voodoo Doughnuts last week, but it was from some girls’ bucket and they were reportedly a day old. Having decided we needed fresh ones, we set out for the second location, which was supposedly less busy than the constantly-packed west side one.

The line was still out the door, though just barely, so we waited. Fifty minutes later we got a dozen donuts, picked at random by the cashier, for $10.50. We scurried away with our pink box of good smells, somehow managing to keep it closed and away from all of the curious looks as we took the train and then the car back to the house where we shared with Helen and the kids.

They were all delicious, and a few managed to survive the donut massacre – though that’ll surely be rectified tomorrow. After a dinner of donuts, we talked, used phones, used laptops, and finally did laundry.

We have three more full days in Portland and hopes for jobs remains slim. True, we more or less took the weekend off from the job hunt, but in our defense we’d been feeling pretty down about the whole thing and hanging around with a beer fest, a soccer match, and some donuts seemed to fix us up. Though we realize we still may leave here without jobs, we’ve also come to terms with the fact that life will go on if that’s the case. But really, it’s a cool city.


~ by Jonathan Forisha on July 18, 2011.

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